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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (7/1/07)
Mike Millikin, 1 Jul 07
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The package of energy legislation headed to the floor of the US House of Representatives does not contain vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. It does, however, contain provisions to promote plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and components. More...

Nearly half (47%) of US car owners are willing to buy a more fuel efficient car should gas prices increase $1, but a strong majority rule out using alternative transportation to offset rising gas prices and are more likely to cut discretionary spending, according to a survey by Discover Financial Services. Discover Financial Services is a business unit of Morgan Stanley, and operates the Discover Card with more than 50 million cardmembers. More...

Demand for Canadian crude oil—most of it from the oil sands—by US refineries will likely double from about 1.6 million bpd in 2006 to almost 3.1 million bpd by 2015. Over the same period, demand by Canadian refineries for the Canadian oil is expected to rise from 765,000 bpd in 2006 to almost 1.1 million bpd in 2015, a 44% increase. More...

The Chrysler Group and Ford Motor have joined the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), endorsing and participating in its call for economy-wide mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. More...

BMW announced that by autumn 2007, 22 models in the BMW Group (BMW, MINI, Rolls Royce) for model year 2008—about 40%—will meet or exceed the European voluntary CO2 target of 140 g/km. Three of these 22 vehicles are MINIs and two belong to an additional BMW model line. More...

The European Parliament will consider implementing tougher targets than the currently proposed 130 g/km binding target to curb CO2 from vehicles. Under a plan proposed by MEP Chris Davies (UK), vehicles would need to reduce vehicular greenhouse gas emissions to 120 g CO2/km by 2015, and 95 g CO2/km by 2020, solely from improvements in vehicle technology. More...

Seventeen leading scientists from different disciplines ranging from materials engineering to molecular biophysics issued a statement urging a broad global research effort into synthetic biology—the construction or redesign of biological systems components that do not naturally exist, by combining the engineering applications and practices of nanoscience with molecular biology. More...

Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) successfully transplanted the genome from one species of bacterium into another. The work is a key proof of principles in synthetic genomics that will allow the realization of the ultimate goal of creating a synthetic organism, according to Dr. Venter. He said that synthetic genomics holds great promise in helping to solve issues like climate change and in developing new sources of energy. More...

The city of Paris, France is launching a city-wide public bicycle rental service, called Vélib. More...

HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

GM will introduce a third variant of its electric drive E-Flex architecture at the Frankfurt motor show in September: a Opel diesel-engine plug-in hybrid concept car. GM Europe also outlined an environmental strategy that focuses in the short-term on reducing CO2 emissions through engine downsizing, systems optimization (through the use of technologies such as start/stop) and alternative fuels (including CNG and E85); and in the long-term on introducing new propulsion technologies such as the electric drive E-Flex and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. More...

In a memo sent to the US Senate Finance Committee during their deliberations, Toyota outlined its concerns with the conversion of existing hybrids such as the Prius to plug-in hybrids (PHEV) in the context of proposed incentives to spur PHEV adoption. More...

GM is selling Allison Transmission commercial and military business to The Carlyle Group and Onex Corporation for approximately $5.6 billion. The production facility in Baltimore, Md., which is dedicated to the production of conventional and hybrid two-mode transmissions used in GM’s retail pick-up trucks and SUVs, will remain with GM. More...

Peugeot has unveiled its new 308—the first vehicle of the “8” generation—which will serve as the platform for Peugeot’s first E85 flex-fuel model (the BioFlex) in 2008, and as the foundation for a diesel-electric hybrid, should Peugeot decide to roll that out. The HDi Hybrid would, according to Peugeot, enable a 30% reduction in fuel consumption. More...

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. plans to release a new dedicated hybrid car by 2009, with an initial sales target of 100,000 units annually worldwide. It will be Toyota’s second such hybrid-only vehicle after the Prius. More...

ISE Corporation recently received orders for its ThunderVolt diesel series hybrid-electric drive systems for additional 30-foot Optima Opus buses.More...

The new rail franchisee for the UK West Midlands will introduce two hybrid light railcars equipped with a flywheel energy store to capture braking energy for use in acceleration. More...

An engineering team at Imperial College London has developed and bench-tested a series-hybrid powertrain that combines an intermediate-temperature solid oxide fuel cell (IT-SOFC) with a ZEBRA sodium nickel-chloride battery. More...

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

UQM Technologies has received a follow-on contract from the US Army’s Tank - Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to continue the development of an advanced vehicle propulsion motor for application as a wheel-mounted electric propulsion system. More...

The South Whidbey Team dragster set a new world record of 29.5 seconds for the quarter-kilometer distance at the third annual Solar Drag Race in Wenatchee, Washington. More...

ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS

Odyne Corporation, a developer of advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain (PHEV) technology for trucks and buses, has signed a strategic supplier agreement to provide lead-acid battery management system technology for the conversion of Mexico City’s municipal Nissan Tsuru car fleet to electric drive. More...

Toyota Motor Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. have entered into a cross-shareholding relationship as they increase their collaboration on batteries for hybrid vehicles. More...

BIOFUELS

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected and will invest up to $375 million in three new Bioenergy Research Centers that will be located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Madison, Wisconsin; and near Berkeley, California. More...

Associated British Foods (ABF), BP and DuPont will invest around $400 million for the construction of a major bioethanol plant alongside a demonstration plant for biobutanol. Although initial production of the primary plant will be bioethanol, the partners will explore converting it to biobutanol production once the required technology is available. More...

BP and D1 Oils plc are forming a 50/50 joint venture, to be called D1-BP Fuel Crops Limited, to accelerate the planting of Jatropha curcas to make more sustainable biodiesel feedstock available on a larger scale. More...

BlueFire Ethanol Fuels and the Mississippi Institute for Forest Inventory (MIFI) will conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a cellulose-to-ethanol production facility using forestry waste as its feedstock. More...

Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) are exploring the production of cellulosic biobutanol from wheat straw using Clostridium Beijerinckii. The research is part of a larger, ongoing research project: Cost-Effective Bioprocess Technologies for Production of Biofuels from Lignocellulosic Biomass. More...

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oregon State University and West Virginia University are seeking to improve energy crop yields for ethanol production through a research project investigating the photoreceptors that influence the shape and growth of poplar trees. More...


UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, will accelerate research and development on renewable energy technology to convert vegetable and algal oils to fuels for military jets. More...

Two Danish biotechnology firms—Novozymes A/S and Xergi A/S—are collaborating on the co-development of microorganisms and environmental technologies for the optimal production of biogas for use in the production of electricity, heat, and transportation fuels, as well as high-quality fertilizer. More...

W2 Energy Inc., the developer of a GAT (Gliding Arc Tornado) plasma reactor for biomass gasification for power and fuels generation, is working to manufacture biobutanol from the GAT syngas. More...

POET (formerly Broin), the largest dry-mill ethanol producer, has produced cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs. The company announced the results of the successful test along with their intentions to make cobs and corn fiber the feedstock for a commercial cellulosic ethanol production facility that will be jointly funded with the US Department of Energy (DOE). More...

Tyson Foods, Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation, a Fischer-Tropsch fuels technology company, have formed a joint venture company—Dynamic Fuels LLC—which will produce renewable synthetic fuels targeting the diesel, jet, and military fuel markets. More...

Syngenta, a global agribusiness and third largest in the high-value commercial seeds market, is entering a five-year research collaboration with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) in Beijing, China. More...

The University of Georgia (UGA) and Mexico’s livestock industry have formed a new research partnership to share expertise in generating fuels from livestock waste materials. More...

Petro-Canada and GreenField Ethanol have inked a long-term deal that makes Petro-Canada the exclusive purchaser of all ethanol produced at GreenField Ethanol’s new facility in Varennes, Québec. More...

The city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama has switched its diesel fleet to B20 soy biodiesel. More...

GM and VeraSun Energy announced the opening of the first retail pump for VE85, VeraSun’s branded E85 ethanol, in Washington, D.C. Concurrently, Enterprise Rent-A-Car designated its premier rental location in Washington, D.C. as an official “E85/FlexFuel branch.” More...

HYDROGEN

TransLink, the Greater Vancouver (Canada) Transportation Authority, has put two test buses powered by a hydrogen-compressed natural gas blend (HCNG) into regular passenger service. More...

ChangAn Automobile successfully ran China’s first independently developed high efficiency and low discharge hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) on 18 June. More...

A British company is developing a low-cost home electrolyzer for the production of hydrogen to refuel a converted dual-fuel vehicle that uses both low-pressure hydrogen and gasoline. More...

DIESEL

Hyundai is launching its new European C-Segment car, the i30, first shown at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2007. The i30 offers a range of newly developed gasoline and diesel engines, with the new 1.6-liter diesel being the most fuel-efficient at 4.7 l/100km (50 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 125 g/km. More...

Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors, the Toyota commercial vehicle subsidiary, are teaming up to develop technology for diesel engine emissions reduction. More...

SYNTHETIC FUELS

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Reaction Design, a leader in combustion simulation technology, to develop fuel models for simulating the operation of jet engines with alternative fuels. More...

Qatar, the site of Oryx GTL, the world’s largest gas-to-liquids project, has no plans to use GTL fuel in the local market. More...

Rentech, Inc. announced an agreement with Denbury Resources Inc. for the sale, transport and use of all captured carbon dioxide from Rentech’s proposed synthetic fuels plant to be built in Natchez, Mississippi for oil recovery efforts in the region. More...

OTHER

Volkswagen has introduced a taxi version of the Touran EcoFuel natural gas MPV. More...

Union Pacific (UP) will replace the majority of switch locomotives used at its Commerce, California rail yard with new ultra-low emission diesel locomotives from Railpower by the end of July. More...

Petro-Canada and its partners announced the formal design basis for the Fort Hills Project (FHP)—an integrated oil sands mining project that includes a mine and bitumen extraction plant 90 kilometers north of Fort McMurray, Alberta and an upgrader in Sturgeon County northeast of Edmonton, Alberta. The Fort Hills Project is expected to produce up to a total of 280,000 bpd of synthetic crude oil by 2015, once all phases are complete. The FHP partners currently project the capital cost of FHP to be C$26.2 billion (US$24.7 billion), and full cost exposure to be C$33.4 billion (US$31.5 billion). More...

Alberta (Canada) has granted China National Petroleum Corp. exploration rights for 11 oil sands fields with estimated reserves of 2 million barrels of bitumen, marking the first instance of major Chinese oil company winning a majority stake in a Canadian oil sands project.

More...


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